Zinchenko, Bajcetic, Raya: 10 things we learned from the Premier League


So, another week of Premier League football is over and there were the usual shocks and controversies across another round of enthralling top-flight action.

Arsenal scored a late winner against Manchester United to go five points clear at the top, Erling Haaland’s hat-trick helped Manchester City thrash Wolves and West Ham beat Everton 2-0 to bring Frank Lampard’s dismal reign to an end.

Brighton equalised at the death against Leicester to salvage a 2-2 draw, Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins bagged the winner against Southampton and Nottingham Forest’s Sam Surridge haunted his former club Bournemouth with a late leveller.

Elsewhere, Leeds and Brentford and Crystal Palace and Newcastle all played out goalless draws, while new Chelsea signing Mykhailo Mudryk looked bright in a 0-0 stalemate against Liverpool.

Harry Kane scored the only goal as Tottenham got a much-needed 1-0 win at Fulham on Monday night.  

Below, Sportsmail looks at what we learned from the latest round of Premier League fixtures.

An Erling Haaland hat-trick helped Manchester City thrash Wolves 3-0 on Sunday afternoon

It was curtains for Frank Lampard at Everton on Monday after they were beaten by West Ham

It was curtains for Frank Lampard at Everton on Monday after they were beaten by West Ham 

Zinchenko is key for Arsenal 

Arsenal look the real deal. There’s no denying that. 

But while Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard are taking most of the plaudits, it feels like Oleksandr Zinchenko is thriving slightly under the radar at the moment.

The Ukrainian made a bold move to leave the guarantee of trophies at Manchester City for more regular first-team football in north London in the summer.

After a promising start – including a delightful assist at Selhurst Park on the opening night of the season – Zinchenko was in and out of the team with knee and calf problems.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was superb against Manchester United, both in and out of possession

Oleksandr Zinchenko was superb against Manchester United, both in and out of possession

But now he’s back to full fitness and has started five of Arsenal’s last six Premier League matches.

Although he is not a marauding full-back, Zinchenko embodies the possession-based, high intensity style that Mikel Arteta wants to see from his team.

During Arsenal’s second-half barrage, the Ukrainian was key to maintaining the tempo and regaining the ball to keep the pressure on Man United.

If he can stay fit until the end of the season, Zinchenko’s experience and technical ability will be crucial in their hunt for the title. 

Bajcetic could be Klopp’s midfield saviour

It’s fairly obvious to anybody who has watched Liverpool this season that their midfield is an area of weakness.

Lacking energy and intensity, what once was the engine room of Klopp’s team is now being bypassed and ran through far too easily.

While a solution looks likely to be found in the summer transfer window, Stefan Bajcetic has burst onto the scene in recent weeks and is proving to be undroppable.

Against Chelsea on Saturday, the 18-year-old was composed in possession and snapping into tackles – exactly what Klopp wants from his midfield trio.

While Fabinho and Jordan Henderson try to arrest their alarming dips in form, the Spaniard should retain his place for Liverpool as they desperately try to snatch a top-four spot. 

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After a fine performance against Chelsea, Stefan Bajcetic looks undroppable for Jurgen Klopp

Haaland rubbishes bizarre criticism 

After Manchester City’s derby defeat earlier this month, some were quick to point the finger at Erling Haaland’s contribution – or lack of – at Old Trafford.

Mainly going along the lines of: he’s not that great with the ball at his feet, he barely touches the ball, if he doesn’t score he’s had a bad game, he makes City less cohesive as a unit, etc etc. Some of which may have some truth to it.

But, at 22 years old and in his first season at the club, he’s scored 25 goals in 19 league games and 31 in 26 in all competitions. 

Not bad for a striker who doesn’t get overly involved in City’s build-up play.

Any criticism of Norwegian striker Haaland was absurdly premature after another fine treble

Any criticism of Norwegian striker Haaland was absurdly premature after another fine treble

Manager-less Everton look hopeless

Frank Lampard was sacked as Everton manager on Monday, and while it is not an entirely surprising or unwarranted decision, the players have to carry their share of blame too after another disaster-class against West Ham.

On the pitch were England stars Jordan Pickford – who is, admittedly, blameless for the club’s struggles – and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, grizzled defenders Conor Coady and James Tarkowski, club stalwart Seamus Coleman, Premier League winner Demarai Gray, £60m pair Alex Iwobi and Yerry Mina and ex-PSG star Idrissa Gueye.

The fact they looked so leader-less and lost on the pitch speaks volumes. There is plenty of time left in the season and the new boss may steady the ship. But it looks like it will be a long, hard slog to avoid relegation this season. 

Everton have an experienced team but look utterly lost on the pitch - and relegation beckons

Everton have an experienced team but look utterly lost on the pitch – and relegation beckons

Brentford’s David Raya passes Tottenham audition 

The Bees being as high as eighth is certainly, at least in part, thanks to goalkeeper David Raya. The two-cap Spaniard was brought in after two full seasons as Blackburn No 1 – one of which was in League One – but has continued to improve and improve. 

Raya in the top-flight this season has the most saves (86), the most ball recoveries (212), the most accurate long balls (216), and is fourth when it comes to clean sheets (seven) and man-of-the-match awards (four) – as well as recording two key passes.

Another secure performance against Leeds preserved his side’s point and Thomas Frank will know just how valuable Raya is.

If Tottenham scouts watched him with a view to replacing Hugo Lloris, it’s an audition he passed with flying colours.

David Raya would have impressed Tottenham scouts if they watched him in action at Leeds

David Raya would have impressed Tottenham scouts if they watched him in action at Leeds

Palace show blueprint for stopping Newcastle 

Three Crystal Palace matches against three big sides across just seven days has yielded three good performances and two draws, against Man United and Newcastle – and a point against Chelsea wouldn’t have been unfair either. 

Patrick Vieira’s back-to-basics approach and the resulting defensive solidity shut out an impressive Newcastle side, with Eagles wingers covering for full-backs, brilliant defensive positioning and a late upsurge in pressing denying Eddie Howe’s side.

Their threat on the counter-attack nearly led to Jean-Philippe Mateta scoring a winner, only to be denied by a brilliant Nick Pope save. Palace may just have shown the blueprint for stopping the Saudi-backed side. 

Ref mistake could cost Southampton dear 

You can’t say Michael Salisbury wasn’t warned. The referee for Southampton’s loss against Aston Villa saw Villa midfielder Jacob Ramsey fall over in the box, feigning injury in a clear attempt to buy a cheap penalty after a Mohammed Salisu challenge.

Salisbury correctly ruled: no foul. But after James Ward-Prowse’s deflected goal, he bowed to pressure from the Villa players and disallowed the goal for the softest, most inconsequential Mohamed Elyounoussi nudge on – you guessed it – Ramsey.

Ramsey writhed around on the ground as if in agony, suddenly looked up to appeal to the ref, before falling back down again and six team-mates surrounded Salisbury. He fell for their antics. It may yet cost Saints in their battle against the drop.

Referee Michael Salisbury disallowing a Southampton goal against Aston Villa was farcical

Referee Michael Salisbury disallowing a Southampton goal against Aston Villa was farcical

Draws not enough for plucky Bournemouth 

After a promising start, things have fizzled out for manager Gary O’Neil at out-of-form Bournemouth.

He named a bold and exciting line-up for their match against Nottingham Forest, with attacking left back Jordan Zemura and 20-year-old African winger Dango Ouattara, on debut, named in the XI.

O’Neil was rewarded with an assist from Ouattara but the late Surridge equaliser could cost them dear. One point is obviously better than none but the Cherries need wins, not draws, to pull clear of danger.

Debutant Dango Ouattara looked bright for Bournemouth - but they needed a win, not a draw

Debutant Dango Ouattara looked bright for Bournemouth – but they needed a win, not a draw

Brighton show succession plan for Trossard 

The recruitment team at Brighton are certainly earning their corn. Marc Cucurella goes to Chelsea for £60m? No problem, we’ll get Pervis Estupinan for a quarter of the price. Neal Maupay to Everton – we’ll promote Irish teenager Evan Ferguson.

Highly rated midfielder Yves Bissouma leaves for Spurs? Ecuadorian youngster Moises Caicedo steps up. After the sale of Leandro Trossard to Arsenal, in has come Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma. 

And if another team buys Mitoma for silly money, Jeremy Sarmiento, 20, and Julio Enciso, 18, are waiting in the wings.

The Seagulls are sixth after rescuing a late draw vs Leicester – and life is looking very rosy, thank you very much, without Trossard.

Kaoru Mitoma scored a wonder goal for Brighton at Leicester to maintain his red-hot form

Kaoru Mitoma scored a wonder goal for Brighton at Leicester to maintain his red-hot form

It’s just not happening for Son  

Perhaps the most alarming thing about Tottenham’s disappointing season so far is just how far off the pace Son Heung-min is.

Just six goals in 23 appearances in all competitions – and one in the Premier League since September – show the problems he’s got in front of goal but he was also lucky to escape a red card at Fulham on Monday night.

After losing possession, Son flew into a challenge with Kenny Tete and completely missed the ball. He caught the Dutchman on the ankle in a nasty collision. 

Son was shown a yellow card – and VAR agreed after a check – but it was that moment that summed up the forward’s frustrations.

Things must surely turnaround for him sooner rather than later. But, for now, better days look a long, long way away. 

Son Heung-min was fortunate to avoid a red card for a nasty tackle on Kenny Tete on Monday

Son Heung-min was fortunate to avoid a red card for a nasty tackle on Kenny Tete on Monday



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